After more than four years of reporting on the River Wards, last week was my last at Star.
Truthfully, I’m sad. I joke sometimes that my most comfortable posture is when I’m hunched over my desk with my hands on my keyboard.
In the hope of producing a quality publication, my life has felt consumed by the Star newspaper.
It has been a true test of my abilities, and my love of writing, to have long been the staff reporter. I just want to thank all the neighbors of the River Wards for their time and tolerance.
For years, as the coverage areas of Star changed, I covered stories throughout the Art Museum area, Brewerytown, Spring Garden, Francisville, Kensington, Northern Liberties, Port Richmond, Harrowgate, Juniata, Fishtown and Bridesburg.
Every week, I tried to find stories in each of these communities, and I hope that my work found its mark at some point in the past few years.
Sometimes, it was truly a mammoth task for such a small, weekly paper, but by working here, I’ve had the opportunity to cover events that affected the entire city. I’ve also been able to follow stories that might not have been on the radar of any other publication.
While here, I covered President Barack Obama’s first visits to the city while he was campaigning for the presidency.
I’ve followed the horrifying actions of a serial killer in Kensington — who was just sentenced last week — and met the families of his victims.
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing former Governor Ed Rendell and Mayor Michael Nutter as well as the hardworking residents of this city who run its neighborhood organizations and community groups.
I’ve followed the construction of the city’s first gambling house, reporting on everything from the history of the land on which it sits to being present at its opening.
Most importantly, I’ve reported on the lives of my fellow Philadelphians.
In my time here, I’ve seen communities come together for the benefit of one cancer-stricken child.
I’ve seen neighbors argue until they’re blue in the face, yet settle their differences because both truly wanted the best for the community.
I’ve seen hundreds pour into the streets, screaming for justice in the name of a family whose child had been murdered.
This is what I will remember most from my time at Star: the people.
More so than anything else, this paper is about the individuals, the families and the shared experiences that made them all uniquely Philadelphian.
Moving forward, I don’t know yet what might be ahead. But I’m excited for something new, and I hope to stay in the city and continue my writing career.
To anyone who I may have crossed paths with while I was armed with my pen and pad while reporting for Star, thank you for your time and for answering my questions.
I will truly miss spending my weeknights at meetings in dusty recreation centers, shouting questions from behind police tape, digging through zoning documents and calling out of the blue to bother the busy politicians and representatives of community groups.
Finally, I want to thank all of our readers.
Thank you again to anyone who found the papers insightful and informative. It was always meant to be about your families, your communities and your lives, and I will miss working for each and every one of you.
Hayden Mitman can be reached at his personal email at firstname.lastname@example.org.